Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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64 MARCH 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED PREP PROFILES Notre Dame has been looking at Martin (Tenn.) Westview class of 2022 quarterback Ty Simpson for quite some time, and the Fighting Irish staff pulled the trigger with an offer Jan. 22. Since Notre Dame's football sea- son ended, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees has shifted more of his focus to the recruiting trail and got in contact with Simpson. "He was asking, 'How are you and what's your interest level in Notre Dame?' I've always had a high inter- est level in Notre Dame," Simpson said. "He told me, 'Sorry that we're offering so late, but I wanted to get a good feel for our offense, and I knew we had a chance to be really good this year and wanted to give my all to the offense.' "I understood that as a coach's son; I had no problem with it at all. I'm fortunate to be recruited by them." Simpson, who is ranked by Rivals as the nation's No. 3 pro-style quar- terback and No. 36 overall prospect, received his first scholarship offer as a high school freshman, but the Irish are making up for some lost time and had a Zoom call with the four- star passer on Jan. 26. "They were going through the Notre Dame name, how many peo- ple know what the Notre Dame logo is and what going there can do for you after football," Simpson said of the Zoom call. "When you think of college football, you think of Notre Dame and their helmets." Simpson said in a December inter- view with Rivals that he was nearing a January decision date, but with coaching changes at various schools he's considering and the ongoing dead period, he hasn't locked in a commitment time frame yet. "I'm not sure quite yet because a lot is still going around with coaches," Simpson explained. "I don't know if I'll be able to get on campuses." Simpson has visited a handful of programs since his recruiting pro- cess did kick off so early, but he would like to check out Notre Dame and Texas, if possible, before making a decision. Simpson is the third quarterback recruit to earn a Notre Dame offer in the 2022 class, joining Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic's Steve Angeli and Owensboro (Ky.) High's Gavin Wimsatt. Angeli and Wimsatt were tendered by the Irish in August 2020. — Mike Singer Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Ale- many class of 2022 linebacker Ni- uafe Tuihalamaka earned a notable offer during a call with Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Brian Polian Jan. 21. A couple days after receiv- ing the opportunity, he decommitted from USC, a pledge he gave nearly a year ago. "It sure has been crazy," Tuihala- maka said of his recruiting process. "Me and my family have been talk- ing these past couple of months; we prayed over it and decided to decommit from USC. We came to the point where we felt I pushed the process a little too fast. It was only right for me to re-open my recruit- ment." USC will remain a factor in Tui- halamaka's recruitment, but his decommitment opens the door for schools such as Florida, Notre Dame, Oregon and Stanford. The Fighting Irish offer meant a lot to Tuihalamaka, who is rated as the nation's top inside linebacker and No. 65 overall prospect by Rivals. "I never would have thought I'd get [an offer from] Notre Dame," he said. "I grew up loving Notre Dame from watching Manti Te'o. It's a blessing that they offered me. Te'o led Notre Dame's defense as a Poly- nesian. I also grew up watching Ju- nior Seau. The legacy of Polynesian linebackers continues." It's well documented that Polian took weekly trips out to Hawaii to recruit Te'o — a five-star prospect in the 2009 class and 2012 Heisman final- ist — to Notre Dame, and his efforts were rewarded. Now, Polian will be recruiting Tuihalamaka to South Bend and hopes the four-star prospect has the same type of success. "It was crazy that he recruited Manti Te'o," Tuihalamaka added. "He was a big part of Manti going to Notre Dame. It gave me the per- spective of getting me over to Notre Dame, too." The Irish have sent coaches to Bishop Alemany frequently in the past few years. Casey Clausen — the older brother of former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen — is the head coach at the school. With the Irish staff having been to his school, Irish connections on his coaching staff and his fandom of Te'o, Tuihala- maka is familiar with Notre Dame, but there's still much more for him to take in. "I'm excited to get out there as soon as possible so I can learn more about Notre Dame," he said. "I defi- nitely want to build a relationship with the new defensive coordina- tor." Tuihalamaka is in no rush to make a decision, though, because he would like to take more college trips. — Mike Singer Notre Dame Offers Standout 2022 Quarterback Nation's Top Inside Linebacker Talks Importance Of Irish Offer TY SIMPSON ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Westview H.S. Martin, Tenn. Status: Offered Class: 2022 Position: Quarterback Ht.: 6-2 • Wt.: 185 Rivals Rankings: No. 2 player in Tennessee, and No. 3 pro-style quarterback and No. 36 overall player nationally NIUAFE TUIHALAMAKA ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Bishop Alemany H.S. Mission Hills, Calif. Status: Offered Class: 2022 Position: Linebacker Ht.: 6-3 • Wt.: 230 Rivals Rankings: No. 9 player in California, and No. 1 inside linebacker and No. 65 overall player nationally

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